Every year, IT benchmarking surveys look at the biggest areas of concerns for IT departments and identify the top tech challenges that companies expect in the year ahead.

The results are in and 2017 came out as expected. The trend of companies moving into the public cloud is on the incline but interestingly many are doing so with the realization that these moves are creating havoc to their previous IT planning methodologies including security and is requiring a new way of thinking about their IT infrastructure.

So what are the top challenges for 2017? In no particular order:

  1. Cybersecurity;
  2. Privacy concerns;
  3. Infrastructure management;
  4. Emerging technologies, and
  5. Cloud computing/virtualization

No room for surprises

At the first glance, you will hardly find an IT expert who’s surprised by these surveys’ findings and a list of challenges. So, what does it mean and how do we interpret these findings?

It would be wrong to think that tech companies are ignoring or are incapable of addressing these challenges properly. It’s reasonable to conclude that these challenges are going to stick around for a while. For example, there isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t hear about cybersecurity in one manner or another. Technology companies won’t be able to solve them completely as there is no magic bullet but their capacity to minimize the negative effects of these challenges will determine how successful they will perform in the future. As an example, no one security tool can protect you but working with a “defense in depth” approach could improve your capabilities in counteract attacks. This is the same approach we use in our cloud hosting infrastructure in recognition that one tool can’t protect everyone.

Does the size of a company matter when it comes to these challenges? You probably expect that large companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue will pay close attention and spend significant resources on IT audit-related activities or cybersecurity technologies. That’s true, but not entirely.

You will hardly find a large company that isn’t already conducting some kind of an IT audit risk assessment activity or doesn’t have an internal security team worrying about their users and data. Yet, the trouble is that less than 50% of these companies are conducting security audit activities on a regular basis or have a continuity plan to adjust their security processes or methods to counteract continually adapting cyber-attacks. More frequent audits and continuous reviews are still an exception rather than a recommended rule for the overwhelming majority of tech companies.

Large companies are moving their cloud servers and applications to the public cloud to control and protect all of the individual users. Each company has hundreds to thousands of developers running localized labs on their laptops or devices accessing cloud resources and data with a few clicks.

One of the more interesting announcements recently, and in many ways a potentially critical next step to protection, is Windows’ announcement of the Windows Defender Security Center. Today, many attacks are localized to specific users or victims of email phishing. Using something like Windows Defender Security Center is looking at the health of each device but also reviews the protections in place. For example, features like app and browser controls, virus and thread protection and so on.

Listening to the wind of positive changes

It goes without saying that privacy concerns, emerging technologies, and cybersecurity are unavoidable topics for every tech company. Regardless of its size, complexity or decision-making level, these issues impact all of us. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the percentage of IT auditors who report directly to the tech company CEOs has been increasing rapidly in the last few years.

We require these IT audit benchmarking surveys as the constant reminders of what needs to be done to improve the efficiency and safety of tech companies. If your business year begins with a list of these as challenges you need to address, then you can expect that they won’t become your problems, but rather productivity boosters. At the same time, ignoring or postponing to deal with these challenges can hit you back like a boomerang. Identifying your problems has always been half the solution. Therefore, these 2017 tech challenges are no exception to this simple timeless rule.

We will be following up in the weeks ahead with subsequent articles specifically dealing with these challenges and how companies can avoid mishaps that could impact their users experience.